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Muscle strength and golf performance, or why every golfer should do High Intensity Training (HIT)

Muscle strength and golf performance, or why every golfer should do High Intensity Training (HIT)
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f the answer to the question "What sport do you play?" is "I play golf," 99% you will get a cheeky smile and a comment, "That's not a sport." However, golf is one of the most complex sports besides pole vault and polo due to the sequence of a movement - in addition to the fact that the game is mentally extremely demanding and you can walk 6-8 km on an 18-hole round. This distance corresponds roughly to the 10,000 steps per day recommended by the WHO. So, how do you improve your game off the course with HIT workouts?

Golf training: complexity of the golf swing

During the execution of a golf swing (and on an 18-hole round we make a lot of them) up to 120 muscles are involved, whereby in particular the core muscles (back and abdominal muscles), as well as the muscles around the hips and the posterior make a significant contribution. However, these muscle groups are often those that are specifically trained, as many players do cardio training as compensation. A targeted strength and functional training is rarely thought of at first. Let's rethink that.

How High Intensity Training improves your golf swing

In order to improve your own game, you will first work on your swing technique, the address position or the grip. Although there is nothing to be said against this, it does not take into consideration the influence of one's own physical condition on golf, even though this is a key factor for playing golf successfully (on an amateur level as well). Muscular strength in particular plays a central role: it’s our foundation for a better execution of the swing, just to name an example. More and more professional golf players including Bryson DeChambeau himself are therefore incorporating intensive strength training into their training plan. SRF reported recently that "The US golfer is showing on the PGA Tour that strength and length do count, even in this otherwise delicate sport".

Why is strength important in golf?

Strength is basically the ability of the nerve-muscle system to overcome resistance through muscle concentration, to counteract it or to hold it against gravity. Strength is particularly relevant when playing golf for the three main reasons:

  • Swing: Strength and power is required to move the club upwards in a guided manner during the upswing and untwisting the upper body. The tension built up during this process is released explosively during the downswing and the club head is accelerated out of the body by a force impulse. The rotation of the hip plays a central role.
  • Lower body stability: The foundation of every golf swing is made through the hips, posterior and legs. Well-trained muscles in these areas provide stability and thus a clean and safe position. 
  • Consistency throughout the game: only with a good muscular endurance and the power of continued concentration it is possible to play consistently all 18 holes. Both can be specifically trained - so the first stroke is just as much fun as the last one.
AURUM Seated Row, also known as an upper-body “pulling” exercise which targets the torso musculature on the posterior aspect of the back and involves the muscles that flex the upper extremity. Performance results are displayed on the screen throughout the entire exercise.

Strength training for golfers: 5 benefits

A targeted High Intensity Training, which mainly trains the core, hip/posterior and leg muscles have the following positive effects for golfers: 

  • Improved inter- and intramuscular coordination when playing golf: Strength training facilitates the interaction of the muscles involved in the movement and the coordination between the agonist (i.e. the muscle executing the movement) and the antagonist. The improved interaction of the muscles leads – according to the saying "together we are stronger" - to an optimised sequence of movements and lower energy consumption (so-called inter-muscular coordination). Through HIT training, your body learns to specifically address more muscle cells within the trained muscle – an equivalent to an increase in strength. Additionally, the high intensity forces the body and the nervous system to transmit the signals faster and more compressed to the respective muscle cells, leading to an increase in speed.
  • Higher precision: Control of the power and more precision during the swing whereas the golfer is still responsible for getting the technique right. 
  • Protection against injuries: Due to the explosive rotational movement, high pressure is exerted on the lumbar spine. Well trained abdominal and core muscles support the lumbar spine and prevents injuries. 
  • Improved stability: exercises such as the leg press and torso extension specifically train the leg, posterior, lower back and abdominal muscles. Those provide more stability to the golf player throughout the golf swing. Additionally, the hip rotation is noticeably improved. 
  • Consistency throughout the game and the exact use of power over a longer period of time: We golfers know it - there are always 2-3 holes that hack our score. Mostly those, where we are either out of breath or not in a mental peak performance state anymore. This is exactly when we run out of strength or when there are not enough power reserves available to supply the brain and the muscles.
"High Intensity Training helps prepare the body for the strain of a round of golf and thus prevent a "performance slump" on the last few meters (or in between)," says Alexander Früh, a passionate golfer who was advised to do strength training several years ago. Alex has been training at AURUM for almost two years now and confirms the benefits of HIT on his performance on the golf court. "Often the improved stamina is more important than the improvement in swing caused by strength training," adds Alex.

I can consent 100% to this statement from my own experience and it is also unambiguous as we know how the body functions. As for me, strength training has been key for the post-injury rehabilitation and quick recovery and return to the golf course. Today, I also train strength to prevent injuries and maintain shape.

What difference three months make: my speedy recovery after an injury and return to the golf course

Best exercises for golfers

High Intensity Strength Training such as the AURUM Leg Press, Row, Chest Press, Torso Extension and Overhead Press in combination with a targeted separation exercises (e.g. moving the lower and upper body separately from each other) and rotation training contributes noticeably to improving the swing and the game. It also eliminates weak points in movement sequences and makes an often unhealthy "balancing" movement obsolete. Furthermore, the resulting increase in muscle memories helps to return quicker, after a break, to the movements and to a similar level of strength and training.

High Intensity Training helps you improve your game and if this is not motivation enough, remember: you will also have positive effects in your everyday life, no matter how young or old, amateur or elite you are. So, who's up for the 8 weeks of AURUM HIT and an 18 holes challenge?

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